Monthly Archives: May 2018

Back in 2013 a friend, let’s call her Amy, introduced me to the concept of Blue Apron (https://www.blueapron.com) and every week (except when traveling) since then I’ve received a box containing three meals for two people. The services has been excellent with only two meals being less than ideal and a handful of selections that I wouldn’t cook a second time. There are many that I have duplicated for friends and the cooking techniques imparted by Blue Apron have made kitchen time more enjoyable. I’ve shared Blue Apron with friends, though admittedly many have not stuck with the service as long as I have. Over the last two years I’ve expanded beyond Blue Apron to include Plated (https://www.plated.com), Munchery (https://munchery.com)  HelloFresh (https://munchery.com), and Smith’s (https://www.smithsfoodanddrug.com) into my kitchen: alternating weeks between the three dinner delivery services and using Munchery as a lunch service as needed and Smith’s to fill in the gaps on travel weeks. This has not eliminated the need for grocery shopping as these services are only replacing three meals a week, allowing my spouse and I to experiment or go out the remaining evenings.

The purpose of this post is to review each of the services as they compare to each other and my experience with each. The reviews will be in no particular order.

What Do These Services Offer:

Each of the four services send fresh ingredients with no preservatives to you home in a box packed on reusable ice blocks. Inside the box are the recipes to go with the foodstuff. Everything is labeled. Digital versions of the recipes are also available for Blue Apron, HelloFresh, Munchery, and Plated. Blue Apron has a social media (Facebook) integration allowing people to see tips from other users on a per recipe bases. They also include video tips and cooking techniques for the novice chef to learn how certain things are done, like chopping and egg separations. All of the services include nutritional information for each of the meals provided. To a lesser extent HelloFresh and Plated have similar offerings. Munchery also has an extensive tips and hints for many of their recipes. The Smith’s product offering provides only the recipe card in each box.

Now to review each service…

Blue Apron:

  • Skill Level: Intermediate
  • Food packaging: Everything is labeled, but loose in one box. Meats are individually wrapped.
  • Delivery: UPS and OnTrack (Depending on where you live)
  • Price: $59.94 (9.99 per meal – 6 plates total / 3 Unique Meals)
    • Offers a family plan for more than 2 people
    • Cooking Time: 45 – 90 minutes per meal.
    • Required Pantry Ingredients: Salt, Pepper, Oil

Summary:

By far one of the longest running meal delivery services Blue Apron always impresses me. There have been very few meals that disappointed us. Blue Apron requires a certain cooking skillset, but offers the tools to teach if one does not possess that skill set in the form of videos on their website.

Things to keep in mind, if you know where a recipe could use extra garlic or an onion that is not included in the recipe card, you’ll enhance your experience. Also note that an additional piece of protein can stretch almost every Blue Apron meal to three portions. This is not true of the other services.

All in all my favorite of the delivery services.

Munchery:

  • Skill Level: Novice
  • Food Packaging: Individual boxes containing all the ingredients for each meal. Meats are individually wrapped.
  • Delivery: UPS (Depending on where you live)
  • Price: $4.95 Monthly Membership – Pay per meal price, 15% off for members. Meal kit prices vary… Works out to be slightly more expensive than Blue Apron.
  • Cooking Time: 20 – 30 minutes per meal
  • Required Pantry Ingredients: Salt, Pepper, Oil

Summary:

Munchery is ideal for planning lunches. You get to pick everything that is delivered based on your pricing needs. Time to cook is the shortest as they have done all the work for you. It’s simpley heat and eat.

Plated:

  • Skill Level: Novice
  • Food Packaging: Individual bags containing ingredients for each meal, larger items are bagged separately. Meats are individually wrapped.
  • Delivery: UPS and FedEx (Depending on where you live)
  • Price: $59.70 (9.95 per meal – 6 plates total / 3 Unique Meals)
  • Some recipe selections are a slightly higher price
  • Add on dessert recipes are $4.00 per dessert
  • Offers a phone number to call if you are planning for a larger event and need more than two plates of the same meal
  • Offers a family plan for more than 2 people
  • Cooking Time: 30 – 60 minutes per meal
  • Required Pantry Ingredients: Salt, Pepper, Oil, The occasional Egg

Summary:

Plated is the most cumbersome of the services as they often require you to have things in your pantry that you might not have around – like an egg for batters and coatings. This means you can’t do that meal until you have said egg.

Otherwise it’s a very pleasant service.

HelloFresh:

  • Skill Level: Novice
  • Food Packaging: Individual bags containing ingredients for each meal. Meats are individually wrapped.
  • Delivery: UPS and FedEX (Depending on where you live)
  • Price: $59.94 (9.99 per meal – 6 plates total / 3 Unique Meals)
  • Offers a family plan for more than 2 people
  • Cooking Time: 30 – 90 minutes per meal
  • Required Pantry Ingredients: Salt, Pepper, Oil

Summary:

HelloFresh is almost exactly like Blue Apron.

Smiths:

  • Skill Level: Novice
  • Food Packaging: Individual boxes containing ingredients for each meal
  • Delivery: Local Pickup at grocery store only
  • Price: $16.00 per two meal box regular price, $8.00 per two meal box sale price if used same or next day (read: about to expire boxes).
  • Cooking Time: 30 – 45 minutes per meal
  • Required Pantry Ingredients: Salt, Pepper, Oil

Summary:

Smiths is a good service if you need something that day or the next day as you can go and pick up the box you need that day. No waiting on deliveries and if you need something else it’s right there.

Conclusions:

I very much enjoy these services. It adds a verity to my cooking with little thinking effort on my part. I will stick with Blue Apron as my primary, and continue to alternate through the others as needed.

In writing this I realized that these services are pretty much the same at very similar price points. I have over four years’ worth of recipe cards in binders on my cooking shelf. The meals I often repeat come from Blue Apron and HelloFresh. The services that have offered me the most education have been Blue Apron and Plated as their tips & tricks and education aids are far superior to the other services.

Bottom Line:

All the services are fun way to spend time in the kitchen with my spouse. We really enjoy cooking together and these services take the guess work out of that process. They take the thinking out of what to eat and provide the tools for success. The price works out to be less than going out to eat but more than grocery shopping (except Smiths). The portions are controlled so it makes dieting and weight management easier. We’ve never felt hungry after any of the meals we’ve cooked with these services.

For a slightly outdated photo blog of my cooking check out https://fox.rabbitvalley.com/Rifka/Rifkas_Cookbook/Rifkas_Cook_Book/Rifkas_Cook_Book.html